By Anu Chitrapu
INDIA New England News Columnist
As spring comes into Boston making our hearts lighter and our lives happier, the summer heat is spreading in India and our relatives are getting ready to receive their NRI cousins, Aunts, Uncles•yes, that’s us!
While our relatives are eager to see us and are truly looking forward to our visit, most of us NRIs are not easy guests. First things first, our relatives have to buy bottles and bottles of filtered water for us so we don’t fall sick.
Some of us have children who are terrified of lizards so houses need to be treated to be lizard proof! One loving grandmother I know did everything she could to chase the lizards out before her grandchildren arrived but somehow a little naughty lizard came into the house terrifying the grandchildren. The grandmother then offered money to whoever managed to catch the lizard so her grandchildren could sleep in peace at night! Add cockroaches and maybe some delightful species of rodents to the mix and basically our families have to redefine the ecosystem just for our visit. Yes, we are not easy.
After we land we take our time getting over jetlag. We sleep at mealtimes and then wake up at odd times hungry for a good Indian meal. And our relatives oblige by heating food for us, keeping extra milk in the refrigerator just in case we feel like coffee at 2am. Gosh we are not easy.
As if all this is not enough most of us arrive in India with infinite wisdom on what is good/not good to eat. While we enjoy hot, fried puris we talk about how our diets should have more protein and advise everyone not to eat too much rice (which we have all been eating for generations). Keeping with the health theme we wake up in the morning and want to go for a walk before the sun comes out. A friend of mine was telling me how her NRI cousin would wake up at 5am and want her to drive all the way to the beach so she could take a walk at that hour. So while Ms. NRI walked on the beach in her lovely Nike clothing, my friend dragged her feet and sleepy body on the sand trying to keep up. Needless to say she bid a tearful farewell to her cousin when she was leaving and then promptly got into bed and slept 12 hours straight.
Then there are some of us who ask our families to give up eating chicken biriyani and become vegetarian. I guess our families put up with it for the one month or so that we are in India — most probably they drop us off at the airport and go on a chicken biriyani binge on the way back home.
I heard the story of the family in India that was waiting for their NRI relatives to visit so they could show them their newly built house with luxury bathrooms. The NRIs arrived but instead of using the fancy shower, told their relatives that they should not waste water with showers but rather fill the bucket for their baths. All this of course after we enjoyed years of hot showers here in the US! Goodness gracious we are not easy at all.
But no matter how difficult we are, our families wait for the time of the year when we visit them because in spite of not being easy we are their loving family and they miss us as much as we miss them•